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Aug
12

FORCED TO TAKE THE JOB

On August 1st I read an article in the HUFFINGTON POST about how female college students and grads are paying off student loans with money they receive from sugar daddies. The girls are called sugar babies and the practice involves P4P (play for pay) or an “allowance.” As I read, it became clear to me that this practice is on the verge of becoming acceptable within the national monetary crisis. And now I also understand why some of the comments left by women stated that Ronnie should take advantage of the Mayor’s opportunities, even if it means having sex.

 

FORCED TO TAKE THE JOB  But is it a job?   [Part 5 of 8]

 

Jon paces his office, a cordless phone to his ear. A sheet of sunlight, reflected off the buildings outside his windows, brightens the papers strewn on his desk. He grabs one, scans it. “I can’t say this, Max. It’s bullshit.”

Max shouts through the phone. “Repeat after me, Jon. I need the independent votes! I need the independent votes!”

“I need the young people too! And I’ll lose them all if I cut summer jobs.”

“They don’t vote, Jon.”

“They will for me. And I’ll get’em.”

“What? With that Stein girl? She’s a landmine. Get rid of her!”

You hired her.”

“For the website. Not your toy box!”

 

*****

 

It’s evening. Ronnie’s back in bed. Ripped envelopes, the check book, and statements are lying around her. She reaches for the last unopened bill and reads it’s return address. She sighs, forcing a tear to roll down her cheek. She can’t open this one. Instead, she reaches into her handbag lying next to her pillow. She dials and waits for the pick up. Her friend comes on the line.

“It’s really bad, Beth. I can’t… I can’t…” She breaks down, sobbing, and grabs the sheet to wipe her face.

“Money?” comes through the phone.

“I’m not gonna make it.”

“No check in the mail?”

“No.”

“What about the polling job?”

“Nothing…”

“It’s only been, what? Two weeks?”

“He said it would be sooner.” She reaches for a tissue. “You’re right Beth, I can’t stop getting run over by assholes.” She blows her nose, sounding like a sick puppy. “Hold on. Got another call.” She presses her cell and reads the ID. “City hall. Shit!” She sucks in the sadness and brings the phone to her ear. “Ronnie Stein.”

“Good news! You’re on payroll!”

“Jon?”

“Thought you’d want a personal call about this.”

“Well…thanks.”

“It’s all good. So here’s what I need: twenty to thirty-five, male-female demographics. You’ll get opinions, from friends, in the bars, on campus, where ever you can get’em. Keep receipts. You’ll get reimbursed.”

“Jon, I’ve got a call waiting.”

“Oh. Didn’t know. We’ll finish this in my office, at the end of the day. If it goes long, we’ll have the time. You cool with that?”

“Uh…sure.”

“Call my office. My assistant’ill set it up.”  Her phone clicks. He’s gone. Ronnie switches back to Beth.

“Sorry.”

“Who was it?

“The mayor. I think I took the job.”

 

*****

 

It’s six-thirty pm, so there are few people left in city hall, and just the janitor in the mayor’s suite mopping the floor outside his office. Inside, Ronnie sits at the front of Jon’s desk, watching him scroll through her latest web design. With a hint of make-up and lipstick, she’s looking sharp in styled jeans and a silk white blouse. But she’s not attractive. Everything about Ronnie’s demeanor reads ‘angry,’ to the point of a scowl. But Jon’s tuned out of that, as he views page three on the iPad in his hands. “We love what you did here.” He looks up, with his I’m-the-Mayor smile. “Approved.”

She says nothing. Now he feels the vibe. “I thought you’d be happy. We got the money!”

“I didn’t. My second payment never came.”

“Really? I authorized it.” He jumps on his computer and types an email. “If it’s our fuck-up, it’s taken care of. Tomorrow, guaranteed, you’ll get the website check, and your first for the polling.

“We never discussed what I’m getting paid.”

“Oh. Thought Max told you.” Jon grabs a print-out off his desk, scans it to the bottom. “Twelve hundred, a week. It’s not much. But it’s part time. And we’ll keep you on retainer for the website. For updates and content.”

Ronnie nods. Inside, she’s exploding relief.

“You hungry?” He stands and opens his desk drawer. “There’s a little neighborhood place about a mile from here. We’ll take my car.”

“Thanks, but I have things I have to do.” She rises out of the chair and grabs her bag. When she pivots to shake his hand, she finds it extended, holding a small metal box and a plastic ID badge.

“For you,” he informs her. She scrutinizes the device. “Take it. It’s a recorder…and your ID.” She accepts the tools. “Max wrote up some polling questions. Let’s go downstairs for a drink. We’ll go over them there.”

“Jon…”

“Ten minutes? C’mon. Relax. I don’t bite.”

 

To be continued…08/19/2011

 

Some words about building tension in fiction. In the first scene we discover that Jon is losing the race for reelection. And he is also being pressured to compromise his progressive values to stay in office. This is a moral conflict every elected official faces. In other ways, we face them too. Consequently, on a subconscious level, we accept this fiction as reality and commit our emotions to the story.

Also, we now know that Ronnie is considered a slut and sex object by his campaign manager. If we are invested in Ronnie’s plight, we now know her honor has been disgraced, yet we can’t warn her.  Again, tension subtly mounts, as fiction and reality merge in our minds.

Second scene: raising the stakes once more – no payroll checks have arrived, yet the bills keep mounting. We have all been in this situation. Many of us still are. This real life pressure creates an identification with the character where we, as readers, weave our own fears into the fabric of the plot.

Third scene: Ronnie’s monetary fears are RESOLVED, only to be replaced by added manipulation by the Mayor. This is a game of cat and mouse. Ronnie wants to take the money and run. Jon wants Ronnie, and is willing to pay for her, which reminds me of the Huffington Post story.

 

So what do you think?  Will Ronnie leave with Jon and go downstairs for a drink?  Would YOU?

 

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16 comments

  1. G00l3y says:

    I have recently come across this story and I have a few questions. Why is Ronnie not taking advantage of the Mayor? Nothing in this part suggests that Ronnie is even considering taking advantage of the Mayor, which you have tried to relate to the Huffington Post. If Ronnie was a smart woman, which her educational background suggests, she would take this guy for all he’s worth and ruin him to satisfy her female pride. Why does the mayor, an elected official, in a position of power, sounding like a 16 year old boy every time he speaks? “Fuck-up” and “Cool with that” suggests that this man sells weed on a corner, not that he’s a powerful man who’s calculating and smart. He gets away with everything. Has this man ever been in danger, does he live for the thrill, or does he get a kick out of knowing he can get away with everything? Ronnie should have a drink with the Mayor, but they shouldn’t leave the office, she should mount him like a horse and turn the tables on him, threaten him with destruction. I want to see how he’d respond if he was face to face with a real cat and he was the mouse. Don’t you think it’s about time he feels real trouble instead of knowing everything will turn out alright. As a woman, I think your female characters need a little work. Sex is not a taboo that makes us fear the sheets. Instead try looking at it from a woman’s point of view. The oldest profession is the selling of ones body. Concubines and prostitutes were the only women allowed to read, write even keep government secrets. We are not weak women who cringe at the sight of a penis and we do not fight our moral compass to have an orgasm. If Ronnie is going to be as weak willed as she seams, 86 the education and make her the graduate of a community college in nebraska where sex is still considered a sin.

    1. Irving H. Podolsky says:

      Thank you for taking the time to express your thoughts. I was hoping for comments like yours when I conceived of this blog. And now I’d like to address your questions. So let’s go.

      Why is Ronnie not taking advantage of the Mayor? If Ronnie was a smart woman…she would take this guy for all he’s worth and ruin him to satisfy her female pride.

      Ronnie IS a smart woman, and she’s thinking about repercussions. Sure, she could blackmail the Mayor, then expose him to public ridicule, which would last two weeks in the media until another story tops it. And then, where would that leave her? She’s part of the scandal about sleeping with a married man. All this gets imprinted on the internet, which NEVER forgets! How will this dirty public affair affect future job opportunities? And what about romantic possibilities? Sure, adultery’s not a big deal anymore. Most people are doing it. But turn the situation around. Would you want to marry a man who was exposed for sleeping with the Mayor’s wife?

      And then there’s the privacy issue: Would you want to have your name published to the world and linked to a scandal? Probably not. You’re keeping your identity concealed on this blog. You have your reasons. So does Ronnie. So do I.

      Check out: http://articles.nydailynews.com/2011-06-06/local/29648574_1_weiner-facebook-messages-photos and http://www.newser.com/story/120351/weiner-sexting-partners-lisa-weiss-meagan-broussard-come-forward.html

      Why does the mayor, an elected official, in a position of power, sounding like a 16 year old boy every time he speaks?

      Good question. He’s trying to fit into her world, seem younger than he is, be cool. But I didn’t make up the playbook. If you haven’t seen it already, watch Bill Maher & Jane Lynch’s reading of Anthony Weiner’s sexting to Lisa Weiss. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HClsBFDLye4

      He gets away with everything. Has this man ever been in danger, does he live for the thrill, or does he get a kick out of knowing he can get away with everything? Don’t you think it’s about time he feels real trouble instead of knowing everything will turn out alright.

      Yep! Sure do. It IS about time he looked into the future. You’d think men-in-power would think ahead! I ask this same question at the end of this story. But I’m not a public official, so all I can do is emulate “real-life” someplace outside of my personal business. Why do men tarnish and destroy their careers so recklessly? Maybe we should ask: Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Anthony Weiner, Bill Clinton, John Edwards, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Eliot Spitzer, Mark Sanford, Antonio Villaraigosa, Arnold Schwarzenegger, David Vitter, John Ensign, Jesse Jackson, James McGreevey, Ted Haggard, Gary Condit, James West, Larry Craig, Kwame Kilpatrick and Tiger Woods.

      We are not weak women who cringe at the sight of a penis and we do not fight our moral compass to have an orgasm.

      None of Ronnie’s reluctance is about sex. It’s about snipping away future professional opportunities if the affair should implode. Besides, she’s not physically attracted to him. And he’s married. Yes, there are some people left who consider cheating a destructive choice. And it’s not necessarily about moral reasons. It’s about “stealing” or “borrowing” love and affection. It just doesn’t last. Without commitment and loyalty, affairs generally do not fill a person’s emotional needs, whatever they maybe. Now if it’s simply about swapping sex for money or prestige, or power, or access to closed clubs; yeah, I suppose that would balance out. But in Ronnie’s case, the odds are stacked against her.

      You think Miss Stein is weak? Keep reading. She may surprise you.

      Also, I’m not the only blogger addressing this issue. Check these out too.

      http://mynorthwest.com/?nid=646&sid=496663
      http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/06/11/2262229/a-matter-of-judgment-not-morality.html

      Again, thanks for dropping into the conversation! I hope you come back.

      Irv

  2. Mark says:

    Perhaps she is biding her time until the election turns around. There is nothing to gain from blackmailing a losing man. Taker her paychecks and pay her bills for now. Once he figures out a political strategy and starts gaining on his opponent, that’s the time to blackmail.

    1. Irving H. Podolsky says:

      Do you REALLY think Ronnie will blackmail the Mayor? REALLY?

  3. Jerry's Cousin says:

    I liked gool3y’s response.
    When it comes to mixing sex and business, women usually are a bit smarter than men. We all know where a man’s brain is. Smart women know how to work with that to their advantage. Ronnie should play along with Jon as long as it suits her and fits her needs. He has more to lose than she does. She may get from this position, what she wants and will stay. Possibly, through him, she can move on to someting bigger and better. A drink with Jon won’t cost Ronnie anything but a little time at this point. Order an expensive drink, Ronnie! Sit back and enjoy!

    1. Irving H. Podolsky says:

      Yes, J.C., I do believe that’s Ronnie’s plan – to take the ride until it goes off the road. The next installment will tell you if she takes the drink or not. (Or bites the apple.) You see, something will happen that she does NOT expect. But if I tell you anymore, I’ll be giving the story away.

    2. Hebet says:

      This earthquake falls under my sicepal rules. I am going to cover it here on this blog. I am going to make a sicepal blog post and post wave information on this earthquakes in few shorts moments (I did wake up, hoping for a day off).

  4. Max says:

    Ronnie should go get a drink with the Mayor. I’d like to see Ronnie order a dirty martini and start to “toy” a bit with the Mayor. Have some fun with the guy. Girls are great at this and guys love to read into situations. If she plays her cards well she may be able to leverage more work thru the Mayor’s Office or other political affiliations. This way she doesn’t give up the sex only the promise of it and we see how smart she is.

    I would definitely have a drink with him. it’s good business and he’s a powerfully connected man. Not just anyone gets to be the Mayor of a major metropolitan city. I wouldn’t sleep with him though, he’s not my type.

    Why is she freaking out about her bills especially if she has one coming for the website? Can’t she just call payroll and track it down? Then call her creditors and let them know the checks on the way. Many places offer some grace if you inform them.

    I think I need a bit more clarity on the election status via Max. Don’t independents actually comprise a much smaller percentage often being considered negligible in number with the Nadar debacle being the one exception?

    1. Irving H. Podolsky says:

      Everyone so far thinks Ronnie should take a drink with the Mayor. We’ll see if she does, this Friday. Everyone all agrees she should try to get SOMETHING out of this opportunity. The question is, HOW MUCH SHOULD SHE PUT ON THE LINE TO GET THE PAYOFF? This is a moving target, in this story, in real life.

      Max, some people worry about going into debt. Some people don’t. Ronnie worries, but she has legitimate reasons for that. She’s living from pay check to paycheck, it’s late, and the second job had been promised two weeks before but not confirmed. Yeah, sure she can chase her money, and she will, but it’s demoralizing. She is failing at the most basic level – making enough money to survive. Do you know how many young people are now moving home with their parents because they can’t find jobs? I read about it all the time. Self esteem is crushed under these conditions. And Ronnie is falling into this space too. She’s feeling defeated.

      Independents and swing votes are the places where general elections are won and lost in these times. Candidates appeal to their core constituency for the primaries.

      1. Max says:

        Like I said she should toy with him., ie: make connections, get him to promise her things, jobs, money, via the “promise” of sex. In other words play a mental game. This is what “I” think she should do as a strategy. I reversed my position on her black mailing him because that’s obviously not gonna happen, unless Beth emails a copy of the picture to his wife or to Max.

        So Ronnie’s expectations for succeeding in the world were set too high and no one told her how hard it would be; especially in the super-saturated world of web design, and despite her great grades her college or university didn’t offer job fairs or placement assistance. Fine. Work at McDonald’s. I know people who mop floors cause they can’t get their dream job. they took these jobs as a way to support themselves in the mean time. I know several people with master’s who are young, out-going, socially strong, yet cannot find employment in their chosen fields.
        But this is a fiction.

        The extremely limited information I’m getting is crating gaps in what I know as the reader. She says she can’t make her bills but doesn’t ask for help from Beth. Is her hot water being shut off? Is it time for a Ramen diet?
        It’s the same with Mayor’s re-election race. When a character says something to the effect of you need to come to the middle, or you need the independent vote, the raw information is so vague I can draw no conclusions… I do not know how this plays in the larger dynamic because I do not know what that dynamic is. Are his number’s down? What are they? Wouldn’t Max know this? Wouldn’t Max be able to say in plain english we’ve lost the Christian vote, the black vote is down to 20%,
        you’re approval rating is down to 14%, you either toss a hail mary or punt. This to me suggests implosion. It’s specific. As a reader I need this “stuff”. Of course I will concede that I am be the only one who does.

  5. Edwin Tuckere says:

    I read the comments of Goolzy with interest as they provoked thought about the story.
    The critical stance taken toward the characters, their believability one might say, I found envigorating. This was not because I agreed with them, for such would be boring, but because they forced my thinking a little bit more about the story and its characters.
    I am here responding more to Goolzy’s comments than to the most recent episode,
    although at the end I wish to make a small comment regarding that also.

    I thought that IP responded to Goolzy’s questions very satisfactorily, but yet I wish to add a few responses of my own (hopefully abstaining from repeating what IP has already stated). Regarding Goolzy’s belief that a smart woman would take full advantage of the mayor, not shying away from using sex as a device in her exercise of control, and also thereby satisfying feminine pride, one must counter that this is not the character that has been created by the author. Such actions might be characteristic of
    a woman smart in the ways of the world but they might not be wise as IP has indicated. To embark upon such a path would incur costs that to this reader in the end would be charged to the account of her character. Now this viewpoint of mine
    is based upon a belief in fundamental moral law, and here I take the Kantian view
    of morality rather than that of the great naturalist E.O. Wilson who believes that morality is societally dependent. People are sometimes compelled to do things that
    go against their ethics, and though this might be almost unavoidable, or even required, the resultant inner turmoil can be painful. For some woman, strong and resolute women, no doubt taking advantage of the mayor would be an action that they would undertake with no soul searching, with no moral dilemma, they would mount their campaign focused on their goal. RS is evidently not such a person. This does not make her weak. She is not driven either to satisfy a feminine pride. The dilemma, the ethical questions with which she is confronted are integral to the story.

    The mayor occupies a position of power within his city, but this does not mean that he himself is a man of strength. Most likely he is f a man not directing and controlling but being directed and controlled. We see how his passions are controlling him, and how perhaps political situations are shaping him rather than he the political situations. Goolzy states that it is time for the mayor to feel real trouble. Here I say to Goolzy, the tension in the story is now because the reader sees the trouble, the reader sees the approaching storm, the terrible danger, yet the mayor is blind to it. We feel the earthquake coming, the tsunami that must surge over the land, and yet all go about their business ignorant of the impending destruction. The reader sees however that the mayor has warning, he has opportunity for escape, yet he refuses the salvation. This makes the reader nervous and anxious. This is at present the core of the story.
    Of course we could have the mayor approach his need for women as supposedly did
    Товарищ Сталин, and here was a powerful man devoid of any moral compass, and certainly one aware of potential dangers – to the point of it being a psychosis, and certainly one who shaped the politics, by the neck as it were. Against such a leader though one could place Dr. Martin Luther King. And King, a kantian in his view of moral law, was nonetheless also one of whom it is said did fall to the temptation of sex outside of marriage, but clearly that does not mean that he justified these actions to himself, or that his life was not one ultimately guided by moral law. I think that King must have been a man at times troubled in spirit, assailed by inner demons, a man whose values were not set by the world, yet a man who worked powerfully in the world.
    In the end a man from whom emanated power and strength greater than that which
    was produced by the aforementioned Stalin. Back to the mayor, there he is a man with principles, but now instead of the politics serving the principles, the principles are going to be forced to serve the politics, if his self worth is defined by his position as mayor. The reader sees a man who is now well on the road to an implosion of his public and private life; a man who because he cannot bring himself to sacrifice anything, will lose everything. Here is not Goolzy correct in her assessment of him as being more boy than man? This must however be a criticism of the character and not of the story, for it is these faults that are driving the plot. We may dislike these faults, but we still may identify with the mayor at some level.
    With the last two episodes the reader has been presented with two turning points,
    two points of decision and action which I am expecting to work as does a Wendepunkt
    in a classic novella. In this episode it is RS’s decision to go along with the mayor, to begin giving in to something that she believes is wrong. What good will now come of this? The reader may think she should have early on distanced herself from the danger presented by the mayor, for now the conflict and temptation becomes ever more worse. the poet Ovid stated “Resist the beginnings: the remedy is applied too late, when the evil has grown strong through long delay.”

    1. Irving H. Podolsky says:

      Edwin, you must be a English Lit teacher, or a writer yourself. Thanks for joining the discussion, for what you are doing, is how I imagined this blog to work: I suggest fictional scenarios that emulate our current society, and we (all of you) discuss the issues.

      What makes us tick? For me, that’s the fascination. When I understand others, I understand more about myself, and I see more clearly how we all are connected in so many ways. The comments are surprising me, and inspiring me. I hope you stick around.

      1. Edwin Tucker says:

        Oh man, I am not wanting to come across as an English Lit teacher for that is not what I am! I realize now however that in spouting off my opinions and bandying about quotes from this or that poet or philosopher I may be coming across as didactical or pontifical. Knowledge however is a dynamic thing – my views are always changing and developing and to a large degree through the interaction with others. This is the great thing about your blog.
        If I am offering criticism to Goolzy’s comments, it is not because I am wanting to show that she is wrong and that I am right, but as a reaction intended to push us all toward better understanding. That her comments elicit response makes them vital to the blog and of considerable value.

  6. TIm says:

    After all that happened to her, she should leave and not go with him. As you said her honor has been disgraced and she can’t restore it. When she accepted to do that job she went on very very thin ice. Now she didn’t get money. What kind of job is that? The ice is breaking….

    1. Irving H. Podolsky says:

      I think with every choice we make, there is an UP side and a DOWN side. Our job is to look ahead for the pot holes and try to avoid them.

      Thanks for your comment.

  7. Art says:

    The new year starts at the evinneg after the equinox has been observed. That is always the 4th OF THE ENOCH WEEK and is the FIRST DAY OF THE ENOCH YEAR. You will need to ask the Messenger Uriel why the year is divided into 4 quarters of 30, 30, and 31 day months. Those are the laws of the Calendar as revealed to ENOCH. by Uriel. And yes the Enoch Year is only 364 days even though the solar year is 365.242 days. The extra day or two is put at the end of the year, and these days are not part of the Enoch year. The day of the week when the year starts is linked to the Feast of Firstfruits that is always on the 15th day of the Third month and is the first day of the week after the Feast of Weeks (even complete weeks).

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